Blood Ties 

Here are the mountains—even though Ma said that
the highest mountain we have in this wretched
place is a hill—that I awed at from Pa’s shoulders,
resting on hollow bones and shaky foundations. and he tires, so he lets me down, lets me
down, lets me down,

lets us all down.

Here is the curry that Ma made in her kitchen of
clanking pots and pans, shelves of choking spices,
jars of hand-me-down rage. biting the skin off her fingers, to stop the shaking. Ma says that
women are
made of rage, born to howl, to claw, to deserve more, then I ask her about Pa and why she
settled for less.

Here is the dress Ahma made for my seventh birthday, stitched from tear stained
pillowcases and blood stained duvets, Ahma says that a girl’s best friend, is her pain, her
blisters,
her heartache. Keep it close, keep it safe, tame it.

Ahma keeps her pain tucked under the covers.

Here is the dinner table, and Ahpa says—起吃, eat together, like it hurts, like losing baby
teeth, and we say our prayers, and we eat in silence or do not eat at all. and I remember
Ahpa teaching me to write in chinese, 回家, go home, but

I do not know how to go home.

Here are the floorboards, wooden and termite-nibbled,
and we step on broken glass from shattered beer bottles,
slip on leftover booze, hide under our beds, and hover like fireflies, somewhere between
lost and not wanting to be
found, somewhere being not having a home and not wanting one, we hover like fireflies,
and burn out too fast.

Here are the streets, that echo my name, like a recurring nightmare I can never shake off.

Here is a house, a roof and four walls, and doors too easy to walk out of. here is a house,
and the ghost of a family, the ghost of a home.

And here is the ache that we pass down the generations, a family heirloom, an ancestral
curse.


LAETITIA K. is a starry-eyed Van Gogh enthusiast. In her spare time, she learns the names of Jupiter’s moons, re-reads Harry Potter, takes bad pictures of the sky and probable spilled coffee. She writes, but mostly lurks, on softstained.tumblr.com.